Bay Area artist Daniel Castro returns to Harrah’s Lake Tahoe on Tuesday to perform at the weekly blues show with the Buddy Emmer Blues Band.
Castro has been a staple in San Francisco’s blues scene since he moved up permanently from Orange County in 1995. A professional player since he was 14 years old, Castro lived in Los Angeles for many years. While blues is his No. 1 love, he mostly had to play in rock bands to get work.
He said the rock bands he played with emulated English rockers such as Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. The Brit that Castro most admired was Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green.
After he played some shows in 1989, he saw the success of Johnny Nitro and Ron Hacker at The Saloon in North Beach and he began to mull the possibility of relocating to “The City.” When he finally did, he was hired for a weekly gig at the Grant & Green Saloon, replacing Tommy Castro, who had just signed a record deal.
People often get confused identifying the two Bay Area bluesmen named Castro, who are not related.
“Tommy and I yuck about it all the time,” Daniel Castro said. “People often call me Tommy and then Tommy told me sometimes he gets called Daniel. I am glad it happens both ways.”
Daniel Castro said he and his brother “got snakebit by the blues from the very, very beginning. My brother and I were enamored with B.B. King. We wiped out two of my mom’s kitchen chairs and made them into guitars.”
Castro said his older sister is an R&B singer who gave him a couple of B.B. King records and taught him how to play some Jimmy Reed standards.
Castro, who mostly plays in a trio, brings onstage a litany of Telecasters set in different tunings, and a Les Paul.
“As Nitro used to say when he would be asked, ‘How many guitars do you need?’ — ‘Just one more.’ ”
The Tuesday night format has three sets. The first is played by the Buddy Emmer Blues Band, the second features a guest artist who plays his original music and is backed by Emmer’s band, and the third is an improvisational jam session.
The Buddy Emmer Blues band includes vocalist Kim Emmer, drummer Brian Jenkins, bassist Dave Clark and keyboardist Mark Ishakawa.
“When (improvisation) works, it’s a blast,” Castro said. “And when it doesn’t, it’s an absolute train wreck. I like the challenge. It might just three chords but the difficulty is to play them with the right touch. It’s like what Jimi Hendrix said: “Blues is easy to play but hard to feel.”